Reflecting and Refocusing

New Year’s is one of my favorite times of the year, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s — the last week of the calendar year — tends to be a time of reflection (looking back) and refocusing (looking ahead).

And the fact that it’s our first week back after family leaves, makes it even more of an important time for reflecting and refocusing.

When I do the work of reflecting and refocusing, I begin with Scripture. As it relates to leadership/ministry, two passage always come to mind …

Acts 6.1-7 — Early church leaders had reached a point where they were being distracted from their primary task. As they refocused their leadership, they recommitted themselves to prayer and teaching the Word.

Ephesians 4.11-13 — The Apostle Paul states that the purpose of church leaders is to equip people to do God’s work.

Ultimately, the primary task of pastors and church leaders is transformation. As United Methodists, we’ve said that that’s our mission as a church, too:

The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

If the mission of the church is transformation, it makes sense that the leaders’ primary task is to equip the church for the work of transformation.

But it’s easy for us — the church and its leaders — to get distracted, isn’t it? Problem is, the things that distract us are often good things. In Acts 6, it was a food distribution program. Yes, the food distribution program needed to continue, but fortunately for the church, they found a better way.

Today, similar good things can also distract church leaders from their primary task. While these ministries must continue and even grow, we too must find a better way. Incidentally, the food distribution program grew when church leaders handed the ministry off to capable people who could more fully devote their time and attention to the ministry. There’s an important lesson here!

One of the areas I am refocusing on this week (something that I’ve been wanting to refocus on for a while) is preaching, or more specifically, sermon preparation. Since preaching (teaching, equipping) is part of my primary task, and because it’s easy to get distracted by the “tyranny of the urgent,” preparation is something that constantly needs attention and focus.

I’ll try to write more about this later in the week as I continue to reflect, refocus, and put into practice what I’m thinking.

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